Visual Arts

Patricia Brace and Rita Leduc: I Like You Better Now

by / Nov. 11, 2014 5pm EST

Performance art emerged from conceptual art in the late 1960s to become a dominant genre for the rest of the century. Performance art is real-time activity centered on an artist’s own voice, image, or physical body—it may be documented by photography or intended for a single moment, vanishing with its live audience. Its ancestry may be traced to festivals, pageants, carnivals, music hall and vaudeville down through the centuries from ancient sacred traditions of shamanism and prophecy.

Through their respective histories, Patricia Brace and Rita Leduc have produced a location-specific media installation at Hi-Temp Fabrication that they characterize as “a journey about understanding place and relationships in a world where both are in constant flux.”

Four floors up by freight elevator, a columned white space is centrally lit. There is an expanse of white vinyl laid out on the cement floor, covering the center of the room. Propped against each of the interior pillars are large canvases serving as screens for video projections emanating from a central pillar, where four projectors are fastened in four directions, each facing the opposite screen.

The images displayed are shown home movie style, without sound. Viewers are encouraged to stand in front of the screen images to become part of the play of shadows. These images consist of scenes of fragmented figurative and landscape juxtapositions synchronized in an episodic repetitive series. The images are intended to shed light on a year of reconnection with Buffalo and each other by two young women, posing a psychological interface between physical location and an interpersonal relationship—how geography and human contact overlap, integrate, and create a cultural signifying iconography—what the founding father of performance art, Allan Kaprow, called “parlor anthropology.”

Further into the exhibition, a low platform sets off a room empty but for a number of receding columns guiding a viewer’s eye to the wall of windows at the far end. Only some of the columns are load-bearing; additional faux columns have been added, painstaking replicas giving the effect of spatial disorientation to a viewer standing on the platform. Skillfully worked fabric facades mimic the actual walls with the bricked grime of a factory environment. Approaching the far end of the room a viewer activates a real-time sound installation fully audible at the base of the windowed wall.

Describing I Like You Better Now, this reviewer is fairly certain a viewer will get a sense of its physical plant, so to speak, but appreciation of the installation will vary with an individual’s own life experience. Certainly there are antecedent artists to cast back to, especially experimental filmmakers of the 1960s—Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage, further to the fragmented narratives of Maya Deren. In choosing to create a “site-responsive” installation, Brace and Leduc have left the 14,000-square-foot factory floor space freely open to the imagination.

An additional media element will be added to the installation on Wednesday, November 12 at 7pm: a special dance performance featuring Buffalo Contact Improvisation Jam Performance Group. Click here to reserve a spot now.

Visits to I Like You Better Now are by appointment: